Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Finding and Keeping Motivation

I have been at this now for 19 months and wanted to share a little on some of the things I have done to keep me motivated.

Initially it was pretty straight forward - I was killing myself. Weighing as much as I did and eating as much as I did there was no other way to look at it. I don't know if it was one particular moment or the culmination of a few strung together events (having to buy two seats on an airplane for instance) that led to that conclusion, but it was in my head as I started. It wasn't fair to my wife, my kids, the rest of my family, or myself.

So the initial push was straight forward - save my life! Once I started the initial size loss was motivating - being that big you can a lose quite a bit of  "size" quickly. I say "size" because I didn't weigh myself for the first whole year so it wasn't a "weight" loss - but the thrill of going down in pants sizes and shirt sizes was motivation in itself. I also knew from previous attempts that clothes size also are not prone too much to depressing you with daily fluctuations and are forgiving for small transgressions.

That initial whoosh of weight (size) depending on your size could last 1-6 months for me it was probably the first 4.  Once I felt I was off the edge of the abyss and the size changes started to slow down - I found myself watching any and every documentary/series on obesity I could find. All of the discovery health shows, shows about gastric bypass, shows on people trapped in houses, shows on weight loss camps etc...I didn't know why at first, but I had gotten to the point where things had slowed down a little and I think I was actively looking to remind myself that "there but for the grace of God" and staying with my plan go I. Not sure if watching obesity shows can be formalized - but having a way to remind oneself of what is at stake and of where you started seems to be a good idea. It is the same reason I have a pair of 56 pants and 4Xl shirt in the closet - I can always sneak in and put them on to remind myself of how far I have come and what failure could lead to.

Between the size losses, "what-if" obesity show motivation, and the little victories like fitting in a booth again I stayed well motivated the first year. Then I had my one year weigh-in and had a new starting point at 293 pounds 122 pounds down from my max weight. A great weight loss, but at this point sizes had stopped "melting off", I had watched every episode "400, 500, 600 etc.. Pound Man/Woman/Child" that was around, and I was in my danger zone of feeling like I could live OK at this weight - a good way to go backwards. I couldn't physically feel as awful as my old self and that scared me to death.

At my work I do continuous improvement - it goes the same kind of way. When you first go into a company there are a lot of simple things you can do to make a lot of progress, cleaning up, organizing, some training, etc...and typically most places do great the first year. It does get to the same point as my weight loss where management is happy with a big change, employees are happy most of the disruptive changes are done and more often than not before anyone realizes the company starts to slip back into it's old ways because the status quo is good enough.

It's not continuous improvement unless the company views the process as never ending. However the gains will be smaller for the same effort now that the big stuff is out of the way. So if they are to continue to drive change and convince their organization it is worth it they need some data to track progress on more of a micro scale. To do this you need baseline metrics, scrap, productivity, efficiency, etc..that you regularly track and evaluate.

I ended up at the same point after not weighing for a year to keep from being de-motivated I decided I needed to weigh semi-regularly to keep myself motivated. It was something I could track and see progress when the clothes weren't changing and there were no new milestones (seems like once you fit back into your first booth they are all about the same).

 I say semi regularly because you will go insane weighing yourself every day - I did it for a few and at upwards of 290 pounds my weight could fluctuate 3-4 pounds up and down in a days time. So I try to weigh weekly, but will take a week off here and there if I am feeling bloated or know I went overboard on the vodka the weekend before. I want to track progress and keep motivated - but I am still careful not too obsess with having to know or lose every week.

That's pretty much where I am  - losing a pound or two here and there is motivation at the moment to continue along my journey and maintain the lifestyle I have transitioned to. Also now with the blog here I have some more motivation to keep moving along. I do not want this entry to be my last one that shows up when people are googling weight loss blogs three years from now.

No specific recommendations here at this time other than you need to examine yourself and what motivates you. Be flexible - there is a range of emotions and different paces of change along the way. What motivates you when your asking for a table because you don't fit in a booth may not be what you need for motivation when your comfortably in that booth choosing between grilled or breaded shrimp!


PS Comments/questions/complaints about the writing all welcome - drop a comment or catch me on twitter!

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